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Smart meter, smart choice but at what cost to Health?

Updated: Dec 1, 2020


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It is time for bed and a bedtime story but this time it is very different – gone is the need for the parent, grandparent or uncle or aunt to read from a book, instead:

A child; daughter, granddaughter, nephew is put into their new interactive smart PJ’s’.

Using a smart phone, the story is chosen by scanning patterns of dots embedded in the pyjamas and the tale, along with pictures, shows up on the smart device. This is not, as may first seem, the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but the age of the smart gadget.

At the heart of the smart grid, a communication network using interactive electronic technologies, is another smart device, the smart meter. Electricity providers and consumers can exploit its ability to broadcast and receive data wirelessly, collecting information on household energy consumption without the need for human meter readers.

According to TAFE physics lecturer Fred Tanyous, smart meters operate on two main frequencies: radio frequency(RF), and extra low frequency (ELF). Despite its name, RF is not associated with radio waves, but with microwaves, and is used by wireless devices such as cordless phones and mobile phones. But critics have raised concerns about the potentially damaging health effects of RF waves. Lead clinician in neurobiology at the Sophia Health Institute in King Country, Washington, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt M.D., PhD, warns of the dangers of radio frequency waves to the nervous system on lobby group website Stop Smart Meters UK. “The ‘Smart’ Meter is number one in terms of devastation to our nervous system,” he said. “[The radiation] permanently destroys and alters the manufacture of brain proteins… meaning that it completely changes the human organism – permanently.” These concerns have led to calls for the precautionary principle to be applied, and for consumers to retain the choice not to use the meters. Yet in Victoria, the government has mandated the installation of smart meters, with the rollout process 95 percent complete. Sharka is one Melbourne resident who is fighting back against the rollout. Despite not having a smart meter installed in her own home, she has been feeling restless; her body “can’t shut down properly”. With the new meters in the neighbourhood, her sleep is no longer as good as it was – well-known signs that occur, she says, when electromagnetic frequencies interrupt your body’s release of melatonin.

She is far from the only Victorian to cite health problems from the smart meters. Dizziness, nausea, headaches and heart palpitations forced Rosemary and Vic to sleep in their van on the street before selling their house of 22 years with its organic garden, solar panels and bay views, moving interstate to get away from smart meters. “We don’t know if the damage is permanent or if we can recover, given enough time away from the radiation,” Rosemary says of the ringing in their ears.

The couple have been contacted by many others who are experiencing similar problems. “One lady we know had been sleeping in a tent in her backyard since the smart meter was installed,” Rosemary said. “Others were spending between $20,000 and $30,000 on shielding paint and curtains, just to get back into their own homes.” Rosemary also noted other neighbours who do not even own smart meters, but are being made ill by their neighbours’ smart meters. “Wireless Smart meters are being removed in California as they have made so many people sick,”she said.

The Radiation Advisory Committee in Victoria disagrees with the connections drawn by critics of the meters. Referring to theAMI Meter Electromagnetic Field Survey Preliminary Report,they say: “the radiofrequency radiation levels were very low and well under the radiation protection standard… there is no substantive evidence to suggest thatexposure to radiofrequency radiation increases risk.” (Sixteen homes were included in the survey.)

The committee’s findings are supported by the government body Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) in its draft report from 2012, which also found that smart meters “are safe and don’t pose any greater safety risk than older electronic or electromechanical meters.” According to Fred Tanyous, the emission levels from smart meters are well under the safety limit. “Emissions range from 0.011% to 0.82% of the allowable limit here in Australia,” he said. Overseas, however, a number of groups retain a different take. ‘Texans against Smart Meters’ are particularly concerned about the biological effects of smart meters, comparing cell phone emissions to those of this digital meter. ”The WHO has categorized cell phone radiation as a possible Class 2-B carcinogen,” the group says on their website. “Smart Meter RF pulses are about 300 times stronger than cell phone radiation, so, they must surely be included on WHO’s list of potential carcinogens eventually.” Dr Federica Lamech, MBBS is a family GP from Dandenong in Victoria. She now relies on her husband’s income to support their family because her developed electro-sensitivity means she can no longer work as a physician.

The doctor has submitted 92 case studies to the ‘The American Academy of Environmental Medicine’ (AAEM), a non-profit international medical organisation set up in 1965,comprising of physicians and scientists interested in the complex relationship between the environment and health’. The ‘scientifically valid research’whichcites Victorians’self reported health symptoms following the installation of smart meters, is in the process of being peer reviewed ahead of publication.

“What happened to me was avoidable and clearly a breach of human rights, ”Dr Lamech says in an open letter sent to the then-Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu in February 2012.

Comparing Australia’s exposure standards for Radiofrequencies used in telecommunications, to other countries like China, Switzerland, Russia and Austria. ‘Which by the wayare one hundred to one million times LOWER than what is permitted in Australia’Nicole Bijlsma, a healthy home adviser calls for action’. Smart meter expert Donald R. Maisch wants the technology to undergo further study. ‘We are trying to encourage research’ he says. His PhD thesis, ‘The Procrustean Approach’, includes a chapter on setting exposure standards for telecommunications frequency electromagnetic radiation.

There is a general agreement among scientists that the brains of children are particularly susceptible to wireless radiation(pulsed microwaves) because their skulls are thinner, allowing for deeper penetration of the waves. Somecountries, such as France and individual authorities, are removing WiFi from schools as a result.

Parents worried that their children will miss out in the absence of wireless technology can refer to an article in the New York Times by Matt Richtel from 2011.“The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school [in Los Altos, California]. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.”

The Waldolf method of teaching puts the emphasis on physical activity and creative learning. High tech gadgets are believed to inhibit the learning process, generally reduce attention span and adversely affect human interaction.

Computers and screens are not allowed in the classrooms, and are also discouraged from use at home. Although three-quarters of the students at the school have parents with a strong high-tech connection, the pen and paper is the learning tool of choice.

Professor Olle Johansson, a neuroscientist at the world-renowned Karolinska Institute in Sweden, looked at educational standards in that country, which has a highly-evolved computerised learningsystem. “The results have plummeted regarding reading, writing and math skills,”Professor Johansson says in one paper. “Thenew tools do not impress – it just seems like we should be spending money on well-trained teachers with old teaching materials.”

The Biointiative Report, is a comprehensive document written by fourteen scientists, public health and public policy experts who assessed the scientific evidence on the health impacts of electromagnetic fields. It has been checked and reviewed by a dozen outside reviewers. It summarizes that, although ‘Not everything is known yet about this subject… what is clear is that the existing public safety standards limiting these radiation levels in nearly every country of the world look to be thousands of times too lenient. Changes are necessary.” The report says, “New safety standards are urgently needed for protection against EMF and wireless exposures that now appear everywhere in daily life.”

References Bijlsma, Nicole & Associates,http://www.buildingbiology.com.au/images/stories/pdf/Smart_meters_LN.pdf(last accessed on 4/3//2014) EMFacts Consultancy. http://www.emfacts.com/2013/11/wireless-smart-meter-case-studies-in-victoria-australia/ (Last accessed 19/3/14) http://www.emfacts.com/2014/03/is-wireless-technology-in-swedish-schools-adversely-affecting-the-kids/ (Last accessed 19/3/14) EMF Safe Consultancy http://www.emfacts.com/2014/03/how-industry-manipulates-science-by-promoting-scientists-who-support-their-economic-interests/(Last accessed 19/3/14) EMFacts Consultancy http://www.emfacts.com/2014/03/a-silicon-valley-school-that-doesnt-compute/ (Last accessed 19/3/14) EMF Safety Network,http://emfsafetynetwork.org/open-letter-to-the-premier-from-a-doctor/ (Last accessed 19/3/14) Energy Australia, http://www.energyaustralia.com.au/residential/help-centre/faqs/smart-meters Smart Meters FAQs (last accessed 24/2/14) Maisch (Don)PhD – Why Are Smart Meters So Dangerous? Take Back Your Power YouTube Published on Dec 10, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSJemrpM5Us (Last accessed 26/2/14) Radiation Advisory Committee, Victoriahttp://www.energyaustralia.com.au/residential/help-centre/faqs/smart-meters (last accessed 22/2/14) Richtell, Matt http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all&_r= (last accessed 22/5/14)

Stop Smart Meters http://stopsmartmeters.org/2013/11/11/american-academy-of-environmental-medicine-calls-for-moratorium-on-smart-meters-new-research-clearly-demonstrates-adverse-health-effects/ Stop Smart Meters NZ, stopsmartmeters.org.nz (Last accessed 26/2/14) Stop Smart Meters (UK), http://stopsmartmeters.org.uk, (last accessed 24/2/14) Texans against smart metres, http://texansagainstsmartmeters.com/?page_id=33 , (last accessed 4/3/14) Victorian Government website http://www.smartmeters.vic.gov.au/about-smart-meters (Last accessed on 22/2/2014) Victorian Government website, http://www.health.vic.gov.au/radiation/publications.htm#committee, (Last accessed on 22/2/2014) http://www.wifiexposure.com/(Last accessed 19/3/14) Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precautionary_principle (Last accessed 19/3/14)

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